Did anyone suffer from depression or PTSD once leaving religion and deciding God wasn't real?
I was a Christian and Bible teacher for 30 years. In 2010 I had a crisis of faith which resulted in a breakdown and 4 months of suicidal thoughts. When you are a devout Christian and you conclude through logic and reason that 'God' is NOT all-loving , all-powerful and all-knowing, and that there will not be an afterlife of peace and love with friends and family, it is as traumatic as losing a loved one in death, a divorce, life-threatening illness or financial ruin. The psychologists and therapists who deal with loss of faith will tell you this.
No. I think I was more relieved than anything. No more kissing up to a god who supposedly died for my sins when I did nothing cause I wasn’t even born that time ago or always worrying about the damn devil, doing something wrong and going to hell. Now I just laugh at hell cause how ridiculous it is and also laugh at the pathetic man invented excuse for a god.
Religious Trauma Syndrome is a real thing. I don't think it comes from leaving religion as much as it comes from staying in it for so long. Just over two years ago (right before I began trauma therapy with a secular therapist) I was a complete and utter mess with it. For example, I had to drive down to a TMJ specialist in Mississippi that was supposedly an amazing doctor. The first three visits weren't too bad for me because his office played top 40 and R & B. Then on my fourth visit, as soon as I walked in the door, I heard "amazing love, how can it be, that you my king would die for me?...." I had already driven a long ways to get there, so, I stayed. All I could do was cry. I could barely talk at all! I felt so violated, so exposed and vulnerable. It was as though someone smacked me on the back of my head. I kept trying to text, email and call a few atheists I knew for support. I sat under a loud TV, it was STILL all I heard because they had it so loud. I couldn't escape it and I got absolutely nothing accomplished in that visit with the specialist. I didn't expect them to play K-LOVE radio, complete with little sermonettes and scriptures between worship songs and contemporary Christian music.
Going from religious & active in the church to agnostic was rough for me. Spent years beating myself up for my lack of faith. Then one day I realized that I was actually a full fledged atheist. That was a huge weight off my shoulders & I've felt great ever since!
I grew up as a presbyterian - was a fanatic as a teen as I was trying understand my dysfunctional family's behaviors/government/society's behavior, etc. Kept noticing the contradictions and got into many arguments with a lot of people through out the years. Took some Philosophy of Religion classed and met a lot of agnostics/atheists along the way. When I finally dropped religion in my 30's - I went into a panic mode because I was so used to praying to god. It took me several years to get used to not praying. Finally over the years, I noticed some conflicting information and switched to Scientific Pantheist. Felt much better once I embraced this as it validated my inner promptings/observation of life. It is a real "loss" of identity & "support system" and it's confusing and scary for some people with a dramatic change of "lifestyle" or mentality. I felt very alone. I wasn't depressed but panicky as I felt I lost a "friend" but learned I need a compassionate living breathing sane human friends for real moral support.
I was never really part of any religion, moving around the world I had different religious majorities surrounding me.. but there has been times I couldn’t help but wonder “would I be accepted more by the society if I was part of a religious group? Would I be less lonely?” Not the fact that -I no longer had the help/healing of prayers-.. I mean I’ve been getting shit done on my own as long as I can remember, I never feel the absence of an invisible helper but at times I feel like I’m discriminated because I don’t hide my identity, and the fact people who were once surrounding me would vanish after they “find out” does hurt every now and then.
I will claim a depression following leaving the temple. My religion did me no harm; in fact it gave me the tools to leave it. My sadness was born of losing my community, my identity, all the traditions that I loved. Over 30 years later I can still feel that ache of loss on occasion.
Never going back. Not an option.
I'm certain that many people suffer in such a way in these circumstances. I am also certain that it is a result of having relied on reasoning pattern that we are both taught and intuit: cause-effect. We grow up believing that every action or situation is the effect of a cause, and if one were to sit down and begin to trace that chain of relationships, one inevitably arrives at the conclusion that the chain must go on and on and on, ad infinitum, so at that point the mind tries to simplify by concluding that there must be one, priime cause for everything, thus allowing us to be satisfied with something we can deal with. For billions of prople that prime mover, the cause of everything, even the outcome of athletic contests, is believed to be God, who is given numerous other names by different peoples. Soon after this conclusion, we begin to ascribe everything to this mystical entity, believing that every aspect of or lives is somehow controlled by this God. Ultimately, this leads to the abandonment of wat is commonly referred to as "self-reliance," in favor of both crediting and blaming everything to this mystical force that , in point of fact, have actually created and to whom we have put off on every part and portion even of our daily lives. When one discovers the truth of this situation, it involves having suddenly to take responsibility for one's life, a daunting task indeed. Not having that ultimate cause to fall back on is a hard pill to swallow. It is a natural feature of human nature to try to shift responsibility from themselves to someone or some thing outside oneself. Infinity is not so easy to deal with, so human beings intuitvely look for something to tidy up the problem. thus we come up such ideas as, "everything happens for a reason." Losing that "crutch" can understandably result in feeling depressed, confused, and looking for something to replace the old beliefs. As The great, Greek playwright and philosopher, Sophocles, wrote, “Fear? What has a man to do with fear? Chance rules our lives, and the future is all unknown. Best live as we may, from day to day.”
The hardest part about leaving religion is that humans are social animals that evolved in groups for safety and security. Leaving a group, or losing your place in a group is a major life change and goes against our animal instincts to stay with the group.
Thus, most of your depression can be lifted by findign another group where you are welcome and accepted for who you are. Or, you could go on and boild a life where you are atonomous and dont' need others to fee secure. That takes much longer and a lot more effort.
For quick fixes, to fulfill social needs, in group interactions, meetup.com is a place tolook for people with similar interests, including agnostic/atheist groups.
Anyway, it is important to identify that your depression is is mostly caused by your loss of place within the group you left. Once you know the problemit is easier to find a workable solution to remedy the problem.